Review: The Little Book of Magic Spells for Witches

[Trigger warning: discussion of rape, coercive magic]

It’s past time that I reviewed one of the free Kindle books in my ever expanding library. I like reviewing these Kindle books because:

a) most of them are short

b) most of them are gods awful

You know, I’m starting to think I should have a special name for a particular sort of book. These books are so bad that I not only would not pay money for them, I feel as if I should take a cold shower after reading them, because they are that terrible.

This is one of those books.

The cover image doesn’t deserve to be big.

This book is a collection of spells that is intended for beginners. Keep this in mind, as it will be important later. It is divided into three main sections: “Spells of Love”, “Spells of Wealth”, and “Spells of Harm”. Each spell in this book has instructions for performing it and an “incantation” to chant during the ritual.

Oh gods, do I have to review this? I don’t want to. Do I have to?

Snarky Gef: Oh come on! Let me at this! It’ll be fun!

But I don’t want to, really….

Snarky Gef: *pouts* Well, if you don’t want to, your muse can stay tied up for a bit longer….

Muse: Mmph! (She’s obviously gagged.)

Perverted Gef: Ehehehehehehehe….

Okay fine, I’ll review this horrible book!

So, yeah, this book is very….very bad. A fact that is due in no small part to the author’s major case of Small Name, Big Ego (this is becoming so pervasive on this blog, I’m giving it it’s own tag as “SNBE”). See, according to Costello, witches with their “made up spells, robes, necklaces, and rings” are idiots who are only out to make money:

But for once these idiots had actually done something of use. They had deceived these youths to the point where they became so angry that they walked away from the commercial mockery and sought out a real witch to learn real witch craft.     And here they were, standing on my doorstep, begging me for spells.

How could I resist?

Yep, no ego there, none at all.

Okay, so, we’ve seen this kind of ego before, but this is truly a special case, as Costello’s writing comes with a side of creepy:

So go forth and do magic!   Take these spells and begin your studies.   Perhaps one day you will even achieve the title of Spell Master.   I will watch on with great interest as to your progress, my wonderful ‘little witches’.

‘I shall watch on with great interest”? WTF? At this point, I’m really hoping that there’s some kind of language barrier involved, because there’s no way that doesn’t sound creepy otherwise (don’t worry, it gets worse).

And WTF is a “Spell Master”? Is it some obscure DnD class?

BTW, the book is especially annoying to read because it’s entirely written in Old English font. If you don’t know what Old English font looks like, go find a sample (it’s in Word).

Now imagine an entire book written in that font.

Yeah, it’s that bad.

Anyways, after the creepy introduction, we move to talking about love spells. Oh boy. A couple are innocuous (casting a spell to cause someone to take notice of you) to coercive (making a person become obsessed with you). In fact, one of the spells of this nature is…well…read the text for yourself:

This spell will begin to work within days.   Sometimes it will only require hours if they already had any interest in you.   You should engage the person in conversation.   Keep it light and friendly until you see their interest in you starting to grow strong.   It will be very obvious.     From there, you can do as you wish.   They will have no defenses to your charms whatsoever.

Um, is it just me, or does that sound less like happy fun times and more like, I don’t know, rape?

Costello adds that:

Many men and women have killed themselves or others after becoming the victim to irresponsible witches who perform this spell without regard to the long term effects.   It is not recommended for use by low level witches.

Let me reiterate that this book’s stated purpose is a book of spells FOR BEGINNERS. WTF is this shit doing in here? It should be in the Restricted Section in Hogwarts’ library. It shouldn’t even BE in Hogwarts’ library!

What is laughable about these spells is that Costello places a time limit on most of them:

“Make good use of this opportunity, because it may be the only one you get.   If you fail to make use of the magic with three days, the spell will be broken.”

And even says that some spells CAN NEVER BE BROKEN:

“This spell can never be broken.   If they are the one for you, and you decide not to follow through with them, then you will have lost the opportunity.”

From this, we can surmise that Costello is either a) trolling or b) has no idea how real magic works. I’m seriously hoping this book was written purely for the lulz, and that no one will ever take it seriously.

The alternative scares me.

Oh, and just for good measure, here’s another creepy coercive quote:

This spell will work instantly.   All you have to do after that is engage the person in conversation and suggest that you spend time together, whether it is going out for a drink or a meal, or watching a movie.   It really doesn’t matter.   They will be swayed toward a sexual relationship with you no matter what the situation.

“No matter what the situation”?

What. The. Fuck?

Oh, oh, and let’s not forget the spell to bring two other parties together:

This is an unusual spell that involves two third parties rather than the spell caster.   It allows a Witch to influence two others into a relationship.   It is supposed to be used for kindness, but is often misused by those seeking financial reward for their services.

Did I mention that this spell requires the caster obtain a bit of the couple’s BLOOD?

Witch: Hey, you two! I was wondering if I could have a few drops of your blood?

Person 1: (suspicious) What for?

Witch: Oh, um, things….

Riiiiight.

You look like you need a laugh, so here is his suggestion for a 14 day detox before working one of the spells:

“Before using this spell, you need to purify yourself for fourteen days.   Consume only vegetable juice for the fourteen days.”

“The spell will take effect over the following fourteen days, in which it is essential that you continue to avoid toxins and provide micro nutrients by consuming only vegetable juice.”

Yep, vegetable juice, and only vegetable juice, for two weeks.

Okay so, I was sick for about a month and a half, and I drank a lot of vegetable juice in that time, but ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?! NEVER EVER EVER GO ON THAT SORT OF DIET WITHOUT CONSULTING A DOCTOR, EVER!

Okay, I’m moving on to the wealth spells, which are surprisingly innocuous, except apparently they can only be used once in a witch’s lifetime:

“Repeat these words only once, and like all wealth spells, it can only be used once by any witch.   So don’t waste it.”

Um….okay….

So, finally we get to the “Spells that Harm” and, well, if you thought the love spells section was bad, this, this is much worse.

You see, this section contains spells that are designed to kill.

In a book aimed at beginners.

Oh, but it’s not really killing, you see:

“….most people have got death coming to them.   All you’re doing is speeding things up.”

‘It’s not murder, you’re just giving Death a helping hand! Really! Also, “most people”? Who the fuck do you know who has achieved immortality?

Did I mention one of these death spells is supposed to last for an entire year?

Oh, and because you probably need a little break from the WTFery, here’s this amusing line:

“Drink the entire bottle of water, to purify yourself of any dark secretions.”

IMHO, “dark secretions” = demon semen, there’s no other possibility. Now I totally need to use that phrase in one of my stories.

 

And you know, in case you thought I was joking about that “giving Death a helping hand” thing, there’s this bit:

This is a curious little spell that will increase the chance of death to someone who has wronged you.   It will not guarantee that they will die, but will certainly make them more susceptible to death whenever they do anything stupid or foolish.   So the death will still be completely their own fault, but you just helped them along a little bit.   That makes you a very helpful person.

I have no words for this, really.

As a librarian, this is really hard for me to say, but if you see any copies of this book around, I’d recommend fire, and lots of it. I would also add that if you really think I’m making this up, go and read the book for yourself. All the quotes I’ve ripped from it are word for word.

Here’s the link: http://www.amazon.com/Little-Magic-Spells-Witches-ebook/dp/B008U4BWL4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1361167523&sr=8-1&keywords=little+book+of+spells+for+witches

Wait for it to become free again. Don’t be stupid enough to pay money for this, or I’ll laugh my ass off at you, really, and then give you a spanking. If you happen to like spankings, I’ll give you a caning, if you happen to like those…I’ll think of a suitable punishment.

Seriously, don’t do it, it’s terrible….

Pagan Fundamentalism

Apparently there’s a bit of a kerfluffle regarding a conference and certain people writing posts in response to that conference and other people taking that post out of context and using it as some fundamentalist creed (or calling the OP names) and it’s all a big mess.

This post isn’t going to be about that kerfluffle. Well, it is, kind of, but I’m not up to speed on it, so I’m not going to comment on it specifically. What I would like to talk about is this trend towards Pagan fundamentalism, and why I find it disturbing.

First, a brief history lesson. The term “fundamentalism” comes from a text published between 1910 and 1915 entitled “The Fundamentals” subtitled “A Testimony to The Truth” which was intended to lay out beliefs that were considered “fundamental” to orthodox Protestants. These fundamentals were later condensed into five easy-to-remember tenets:

1. The Trinity: God is one “What” and three “Whos” with each “Who” possessing all the attributes of Deity and personality.

2. The Person of Jesus Christ: Jesus is 100% God and 100% man for all eternity.

3. The Second Coming: Jesus Christ is coming bodily to earth to rule and judge.

4. Salvation: It is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

5. The Scripture: It is entirely inerrant and sufficient for all Christian life.

Today, the term “fundamentalism” is defined as “strict adherence to the basic principles of any subject or discipline.” Oxford dictionaries also has a more religious definition, but it applies mostly to Christians and Muslims, and isn’t really applicable to Pagans, who have no scriptures. Another definition is “Strict maintenance of ancient or fundamental doctrines of any religion or ideology” which is much more inclusive of different faiths.

What these definitions have in common, then, is strict adherence to a set of beliefs (or practices) that are deemed to be “fundamental” to that belief system. Fundamentalism isn’t exclusive to a particular form of Protestant Christianity, it can be found in pretty much every tradition.

Okay, everyone, I’m just going to tell it to you like I see it, in plain language:

We don’t need this shit in our Paganisms.

Seriously, we don’t need this shit in our family of religions.

It doesn’t make us cool. It doesn’t give us “legitimate religion” cred.

It’s not helping.

Okay, so you want some reasons, that’s reasonable. Many people have written about this already, including this excellent piece by Lupa, but here’s my own reasoning behind why this is not a bandwagon I’m jumping on:

What are the “fundamentals” anyways?

Yes, this is a serious question. What are these fundamental beliefs that everyone must strictly adhere to? A belief in magic? How about polarity? Which holidays are absolute “must haves” and which can just be discarded? How much emphasis do we put on textual sources? Do I need to learn some sort of craft or trade? Do I need to have a particular political affiliation?

Seriously, individual traditions have their Witch Wars and recon vs. neo-Pagan bullshit. You know what? Forget about finding universal “Pagan” beliefs, because you won’t fucking find any. Now, as individual traditions, your task is a little easier, but….

Who decides what the fundamentals are?

Who gets to decide what these fundamental beliefs are, anyways? Is it whoever comes along and declares themselves “Witch Queen” or “Witch King”? National organizations? (Which one?) Are we going to suddenly see the rise of a Pagan/Polytheist Vatican City with offices for every major (and-not-so-major) Pagan faith that delivers standardized versions of every ritual to every grove, coven, temple, etc.? What happens if the Dianics and the BTWs don’t agree on the finer points of a ritual? My Lokean friends would probably be very upset to hear that their deity isn’t mentioned in any of the stuff for Asatru and related faiths.

Now this is getting kind of absurd (although it would make a cool plot for a novel) but really, who are we going to give this great burden to, if not the individual practitioner?

And then there are the “What ifs….”

What if someone decides that one of the fundamentals of their faith is that the Goddess doesn’t approve of LGBT+s (Mark Ventimiglia) or that trans women are really men trying to steal women’s mysteries for themselves (Z. Budapest)?

What if someone declares that only recons are legit and NeoPagans are just deluding themselves?

Now, wait a sec’, you say, aren’t you being a bit extreme? Okay, no, I don’t think it’s likely that persons like the ones mentioned above will ever be in any position of significant authority, however, every single one of those examples is real, I’m not making them up.

Seriously, not too long ago it was inferred that I was “disloyal” to my deities because I dared engage in the long and venerable practice of going outside my “acceptable” pantheon of deities to flirt with “foreign” ones. (Disloyal, my ass….)

Who’s going to enforce this shared creed, anyways?

Are we going to make an elite cadre of Pagan police who run around administering questionnaires to make sure every believer is on the same page? If somebody witnesses a violation of Standard Ritual Code, do they report it to the Pagan police, who arrest the person holding the ritual?

Do we really want to be lumped in with ignorant, misogynist, homophobic, anti-science types?

Really?

Now, I know what you’re going to say: “But, we’re Pagans! We don’t do the ignorance thing! We love science, and queer folks!” Seriously? Because when I first joined up with you, you told me you weren’t fundamentalist either. You’re a liar, Paganism, and I don’t want to date you anymore, because you’re a lying liar.

Okay, yes, it is kind of ironic that I’m asking if you really want to call yourself a fundamentalist when the word has such negative connotations while proudly declaring myself a Pagan, a word that also has negative connotations. But is there really any other way to define fundamentalist in a way that doesn’t suggest “one who has a stick up one’s ass”?

The Bottom Line

Paganisms are not about orthodoxy, but orthopraxy.

This is not Catholicism.

The Nine Noble Virtues are not the Nine Heathen Commandments.

The Havamal is not the Word of Odin Handed Down From Asgard.

If deities have a problem with how someone honours them, they will let that person know.

Successful Wiccans exist, successful soft polytheists exist.

There is no Asapope

….or Vanapope

….although, I would make a great Vanapope.

You are not the Pagan police. There are no Pagan police.

This is not an orthodoxy.

I repeat: this is not an orthodoxy.

Deities do not need you to protect them.

No, seriously, they don’t.

You are not the boss of me.

My relationship with my deities is my business, not yours.

If my deities have a problem with me, they can talk to me about it.

You can sit there ranting about how everyone’s doing it wrong…or you can actually do something about it.

…..I should follow my own advice.

….But I like ranting.

THERE IS NO PAGAN ORTHODOXY!

 

Review: Sir Gawain: Knight of the Goddess

I picked this book up because, as I’ve mentioned, I’m currently nurturing an obsession with the Matter of Britain which will hopefully culminate in my writing a series of Arthurian legends with a queer twist. Since I’m kicking it off with my version of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, it seemed like a good idea to get this book, which I found recommended by an Arthurian enthusiast over at the Cauldron forum.

In Sir Gawain: Knight of the Goddess, prolific writer and mythologist John Matthews looks at the character of Gawain and how his role changes from that of the most excellent of knights, champion of women, and Arthur’s favoured nephew to a licentious, violent individual who is ultimately eclipsed by Lancelot and Mr. Purity Sue Galahad. The reason behind Galahad’s greatly diminished role, Matthews posits, is because he was originally the Champion of the Goddess, the true Green Knight of Camelot, and possessor of Sovereignty over the land. Throughout the text, Matthews attempts to reconstruct the “original” Gawain cycle, beginning with his birth and childhood, through his many encounters with women, his decline, and his eventual ignoble death.

The book is divided into seven chapters. The first chapter looks at the possible origins of Gawain in Celtic myth, particularly his similarities to the Irish hero Cuchulainn and various figures from the Mabinogion, chapter two looks at his upbringing and childhood (including the time that he almost became Pope, someone needs to make an image macro for Pope Gawain now, Gawain would make an awesome pope), chapter three looks at the text of Gawain and the Green Knight, arguably his most famous adventure, chapter four looks at Gawain’s relationships with women (there are a lot), chapter five looks at the decline of Gawain’s character, culminating in his failure to attain the Holy Grail, chapter six ponders whether there’s an alternate Grail cycle in which Gawain really does attain the Grail, and also examines his devotion to the Virgin Mary, and chapter seven looks at Gawain’s death, and reconstructs the “true” story of Gawain as Champion of the Goddess from all the information gathered in the previous chapters.

I’m assuming I don’t have to point out the most obvious thing that’s wrong with Matthew’s theory, do I? No, but if I didn’t this review would be pretty short. Matthews posits an interesting theory, that Gawain goes from “friend to all women” to violent rapist because Gawain was originally the Champion of the Goddess, representative of a Pagan way of life that made Christians very nervous. This theory, while intriguing, is ultimately blown to pieces because there never was a singular entity known as “the Goddess” and although many different goddesses come in trinities, they aren’t usually divided into Maiden, Mother, and Crone stages,  as Matthews seems to assume whenever three ladies pop up in any of the stories. Suffice it to say that it’s best to take most of the goddess-y talk with a grain of salt. In any case, it pretty much amounts to: “Gawain is the bestest knight evar! Galahad is just Gawain with a chastity belt! ZOMG teh Goddess!”

Another issue Matthews has is that he tends to jump around a lot, going from text to text and name-dropping different scholars like you should know who they are. The tone of the book is sort of academic in times (even though the ideas within wouldn’t fly in academic circles these days) but it’s not so stuffy as to be unreadable. Still, all the jumping around can get confusing at times, as he goes from talking about one story, then another, then jumps back to the next story.

The true value of this text lies in all of the tales it tells (some of which, according to my source, are hard to find). Yours truly is really only familiar with the stories in the Mabinogion, Gawain and the Green Knight, and The Marriage of Sir Gawain (Sir Gawain and the Loathly Lady) so it was interesting to read some of the other stories. La Vengeance Raguidel and La Pulzella Gaia (The Merry Maid) are particularly awesome and someone really should make a movie out of La Vengeance, because it has everything: adventure, mushy stuff, the Black Knight, disguises, conniving women, epic battles. I’m assuming since the most likely author dates from c.1165-c.1230 that means the work isn’t under copyright (no copyright in the Middle Ages). Some of the stories are pretty trippy (like the one involving Pope Gregory and incest) and definitely worth a look.

Bottom line, take the “Goddess-y” bits with a grain of salt and see it as a collection of Gawain-centric tales (or, if you prefer, a look at how Gawain went from number one knight to a major asshole). My own version of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight should be coming….soon….

Review: Demon Diary Vol. #2

“I’m sorry, I could never love you back!”

Happy Singles Awareness Valentines Day! Sadly, I don’t have any excerpts from any of my current projects yet (save for the teaser in the post before this) but I still have reviews, so you get another volume of Demon Diary, because I can literally go through one in half an hour or less.

The first thing you might notice about volume 2 (or not, since it’s kind of small) is that there’s a new writer on board as the previous one had to leave the project to get ready for his high school entrance exams. The artist is still the same though, so no worries on that front.

When we last left Raenef, the happy-go-lucky demon lord in training, he had spared the life of Erutis, a knight who was coming to kill the “fearsome demon lord” in the area. In exchange for her life, the knight–Erutis–offers to become his henchman. Eclipse doesn’t approve of this, of course, but as Raenef’s vassal, he really has no choice but to go along with his master.

To make a long story short, Raenef faints during one of his lessons and comes out of it resolving to strike out on his own and return when he becomes a proper demon lord.

Yeah, that sort of plan is always a great idea.

Meanwhile, at the Temple of Rased, god of light, Chris, a young, brash, future high cleric erects a summoning circle with the intent to summon a demon lord, and, as you might have guessed, he ends up summoning Raenef and (as usual for the series) can’t quite believe that someone like Raenef is really a demon lord. We’re also introduced to Hejem, the current high cleric and Chris’ adoptive father. The last part of the volume is a lengthy flashback shedding more light on just who Raenef was before he became mixed up in demon politics.

This volume keeps the same lighthearted tone as the first one (although it does get a bit more serious towards the end) with plenty of funny moments, from Raenef having a nightmare involving cruelty to tomatoes to Erutis mistakenly believing Eclipse is checking her out (hence the quote at the beginning. His response? “Oh…don’t flatter yourself.”) to a more off-colour bit in which the inhabitants of the Western lands assume Eclipse wants them to round up fifteen year-old boys for *ahem* very wrong reasons. His reaction when he realizes this?

The source of most of the comic relief in this volume is Chris, though. The future high cleric of the demon-hunting priests of Rased is powerful….and has an ego the size of Russia. This leads to an not entirely unexpected moment of bonding between Eclipse and Hejem, who are both exasperated by their idiot charges.

The rest of the volume, as I mentioned, is a flashback which sheds light on Raenef’s past as a kindhearted orphan who fell in with a gang of thieves because they were the closest thing to a family he had. So, basically Raenef’s past is one giant cliche, and the volume ends in the most not-cliffhanger ever, because….did you read the first volume? 😛

Oh well, I can forgive a little cliche because the series as a whole is just so cute. The art is great, as usual, and unlike the first title, there are no depressing stories to ruin that nice warm fuzzy feeling you get from reading through this series. Oh, and there’s still subtext kicking around, of course, but not as much as volumes 1 and 3, IMHO.

Other things you should know apart from what’s already been mentioned? There is a bit of implied violence, although since it is rated T the really gory stuff has been left to the reader’s imagination *this was, I’m assuming, in the original text and wasn’t edited by the translators). Hejem also has a rather slapstick (literally) parenting style. Although, this, like Eclipse’s magic demonstration, isn’t shown.

Once again, if you’re thinking of buying this, they can be hard to find (although the Amazon marketplace is a good place to look) unless your local library happens to stock them (which is probably not likely).

So yeah, that’s that, stay tuned for volume 3!

Teaser

“During Christmastide, when snow blanketed the ramparts of my Uncle’s castle, it was declared that a tournament would be held in Camelot.”

/teaseteasetease

I wonder what Gef could be working on”

First person to correctly answer the question below gets….something. I don’t know what, I’m open to suggestions.

1. Who is the narrator in this snippet? (Hint: If you know the story I’m referring to, the name you’re looking for is in the title.)

No more hints for you!

 

Review: Demon Diary Vol. #1

“YOU WILL REIGN IN TERROR WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT!”

In a world where gods and demons wage a never-ending war with the mortal realm as their battlefield, newly inducted demon Lord Raenef is the black sheep of the demon court, clueless about magic and royal etiquette, the demon king assigns noble Eclipse to turn Raenef into a proper demon.

Hilarity ensues, naturally.

Want to start an argument? Ask fans of this series whether it should be classified as shounen-ai or not (although, since this is a manhwa from Korea, not manga from Japan, it probably shouldn’t be called by the Japanese term, but since I don’t know whether there’s an equivalent in Korean, I’ll just borrow the word for a bit).

Regardless of how you want to classify it, the plot is centered around the comedic (mis) adventures of Raenef as he learns how to be a “proper” demon lord. Much of the comedy comes from the fact that Raenef is about as demonic as low-fat vanilla pudding. He’s cheerful, naive (oh, so naive) and (it must be said) a complete idiot, all qualities that a demon lord does not want or need.

The other half of the equation is Eclipse, the demon noble who acts as Raenef’s teacher. Eclipse is serious, insists on following courtly etiquette, and doesn’t think twice about ordering that a bunch of clerics be thrown off a cliff (after cursing the entire order for a hundred years) because they killed a demon lord, He didn’t like that demon lord, but, you know, he is a demon, and demons have to act a certain way.

Eclipse shows us how this demon lord thing is done.

If there’s one criticism I have (and it’s not really a criticism) it’s that there’s little substance to the story. At this point, the story just picks up at Raenef arriving at his big fancy house with no indication as to who he is or how he ended up in this position other than that it was “the will of the gods” (that’s what Vol. 2 is for, lol). Then again, the story is supposed to be a light and fluffy romp, so maybe saying it has little substance is…kind of the point.

In terms of the art. If you cant get enough bishounen in your life, this will fill your need nicely. A lot of attention is given to hair and eyes. Fortunately, that’s where the focus tends to be, on the characters’ faces (and, interestingly enough, on Eclipse’s neck, but I might just be noticing that because I have a thing for necks). So the art is nice, if you like that sort of thing. I like that sort of thing, therefore the art is great.

BTW, here’s a quick primer as to the sex of the characters:

Raenef: male

Eclipse: also male

Erutis (the knight with the cool sword that destroys mountains): female (Raenef misgenders her, and the lack of pronouns when she’s first introduced has confuzzled a whole whack of people)

I will update this list as I go along, because this isn’t the end of the confuzzlement, not even close.

A word about the relationship dynamics between Eclipse and Raenef, while the back cover hints that there’s more to their relationship than simply teacher/student (or liege lord/vassal) and there is a TRUCKLOAD of homoerotic subtext, you can pretty much read it as a teacher/student relationship that becomes a close friendship/brotherly arrangement or as something more. I mean, you get panels like this:

Raenef: Can you stay with me forever?

Eclipse: ….if you wish.

Seriously, if Raenef were a girl, everyone would be talking about how this is the beginning of a relationship, but Raenef is a boy, so bromance….er….a romantic friendship, but as I said, you can read it however you want. I think you can figure out which interpretation I like the best.

The first volume also contains two unrelated stories: “The Crystal Heart” and “Terra”. These stories are apparently in here presumably because the artist thought we had too much fun giggling at Raenef’s antics, because both of these stories are pretty depressing.  They do have much more overt m/m relationships though (including a kiss between two guys in Crystal Heart) but my enthusiasm for stories with less subtext was unfortunately drowned out by how depressing they were.

Overall, this is a cute series. The art is great, it’s funny, you can read as much into the Eclipse/Raenef relationship as you want, and it doesn’t make unreasonable demands on your brain.

One thing though, if you really want to purchase it, is that it’s kind of hard to find it anywhere. I was able to find them on Amazon for the very reasonable price of one cent (plus shipping). Fortunately, there are only seven volumes in the series, which is short-ish (for manga/manhwa) so it’s not like it spans three character arcs with 13 volumes each. Still, give this one a look-see if you’re interested. I’ll be reviewing all of them here anyways.

Things That Annoy Me

(In no particular order.)

  • When stupid people call at midnight to talk to my dad about his shift at the gym the next morning, and my dad goes to bed at 10:00 on the nose (I don’t know who this lady is, but she has a nickname: “the bubblehead”)
  • When tarot deck creators don’t put up images of the whole deck for everyone to see, which says to me that a) your minor arcana are non-scenic or b) you’re showing the few good cards and the rest are crap. If you’re worried about copyright infringement, make lower-quality pics or slap the copyright on them
  • For that matter, minor arcana that are non-scenic. I HATE THEM SO MUCH! (Although I am considering adding one to my collection, but I hate them, so the majors better be awesome.) Semi-illustrated are not ideal, but I suppose they are acceptable. Yes, yes, I know, scenic minors take a lot of work, but I would much rather wait for an artist to finish them than just rush it out with pip cards, because I hate them, so much
  • I feel like writing today! *opens up The Splicer* Nope, I don’t want to write that….*tries the Tithe-Boy* No, not that one either…*goes through every single project she has atm* WHY CAN’T I GET WRITING JUICE FOR A PROJECT I’M CURRENTLY DOING???
  • When you’ve agreed on a plot with someone on your RPing forum and your character randomly decides to do something else, and then you have to write an apology to the other player.
  • People who decide to oath to a deity five seconds after declaring that they’ve adopted a new faith (apparently the subject of the latest Lokean tumblr drama, say my reliable sources)
  • Related: people who decide “X deity must be my patron because we share X number of characteristics, even though the first time I tried offering to this deity, I became sick, and then I spilled candle wax on my hand when I approached that deity asking for healing. Do you think X deity isn’t my patron after all?”
  • Also related: People who decide that you MUST have a patron, and that they MUST be a god and goddess, because Wicca, and then they decide that there must be something wrong if no patron is in evidence
  • “Oh, you’re queer? Why do you worship Freyr then? Don’t you know he’s a god of FERTILITY???” ….Just stop talking, right now.
  • Person has a problem with BDSM, especially in the context of ritual–said person comes from a tradition that uses a scourge
  •  Straight Male Doms who think that all women are subs
  • I said Straight Male Doms, which is a different kind of Dom than the male Doms who happen to be straight
  • “If you were playing with me, I’d train you to be a proper sub,” (because deep down inside, all women are subs, yes they are!) Um, no, “Sir” (and I use that term with the greatest reluctance) I don’t want to play with you, end of story. You misogynistic piece of shit.
  • Related: Dommes who want to have an online relationship with you, and you’ve had like, two conversations since they introduced themselves, and for the eleventy billionth time, it’s not my kink.
  • (Where did I encounter these lovely people? PaganSpace, my friends.)
  • When I realize that I, a disabled woman, haven’t written any disabled characters into any of my stories. Well, there’s that one character who is blind, and is mentioned like, twice, but that doesn’t count.
  • This recent rise of so-called “Pagan fundamentalism” which, frankly, I find to be mildly disturbing. I will probably devote a whole post explaining why soon.
  • Stores that put out Easter candy before Valentine’s Day is over (also applies to every other major holiday) SIGH
  • When my mom tries to be sarcastic and fails
  • When I see stores advertising Fifty Shades of Grey perfume
  • ….and I think “Is it necktie scented?”
  • When I have deity crushes on male deities (even if they are very androgynous, or shapeshifters)
  • ….because then I feel like a bad lesbian
  • ….yes, that is incredibly silly of me.
  • When I hear someone call my name at random, and I go out and ask my mom about it, but she didn’t say a thing
  • When people question my commitment to the Vanir because I feel drawn to other deities or find non-Heathen practices useful, DEITY-SWAPPING IS COMPLETELY HISTORICAL, FOOLS!
  • When a level has a simple solution, but I run around for twenty minutes trying to find it/die a bunch of times because no one’s told me the building I want to destroy is the big one RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME! (Prototype, seriously, that second-to-last level is REALLY annoying).
  • When I’m in the market for some manhwa and the 13 volume series I find seems promising….and then I see #11 is OVER A HUNDRED DOLLARS USED, which makes absolutely NO SENSE!
  • ….On the wish list it goes.
  • When you find out Hollywood’s doing another reboot, and you think of all the cool properties that haven’t been made into movies yet…
  • Seriously, Hollywood? Stay the fuck away from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas
  • When your dog indicates that she wants to go out….because she wants to eat snow, and then she’s back at the door ten minutes later for a potty break
  • When it seems like everyone in your faith community is a fan of metal
  • …and all they do is talk about metal
  • …and post videos of same
  • ….and you really aren’t a metal fan
  • When someone tells you you have bad taste in anime
  • Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok is CUTE, okay?
  • Fuck you, it is.
  • When Heathens say “don’t read books by Heathen authors, because you’re just getting that author’s opinion, read the lore”….lore that was written by Christians…lore that was written by Christians with opinions
  • Related: When Heathens criticize others for “not honouring all the gods”
  • ….”Who the fuck are the Alcis?”
  • ….”Sandraudiga who?”
  • I rest my case.
  • When you plan out a plot with someone and you have to wait until tomorrow to continue because SLEEP and even though you need to go you REALLY want to play out the plot with your characters
  • …it’s not as annoying as one-liners, though

Game Review: Prototype

I bought Prototype way back on Hallowe’en, so that’s how much I was distracted that I didn’t manage to finish it until moments ago. Basically, I bought this because I wanted to play a creepy game on Hallowe’en and for some inexplicable reason Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth wasn’t on sale until the week after.

Prototype is an action-adventure sandbox type game in which you play as Alex Mercer, a man with with superhuman abilities and a convenient case of amnesia who is trying to figure out who he is and why the military is trying to kill him. While on his journey of self-discovery, he manages to entangle himself in a vast web of conspiracies that have something to do with the mysterious virus that’s been threatening to overrun Manhattan.

When I started the game, I was ready to write off Alex as a completely unlikeable protagonist. It’s hard to feel sympathy for someone who mows down pedestrians as easily as he does the military and infected that are actually trying to kill him, , but over time, I grew to accept that even though I didn’t like Mercer, I was stuck in his shoes, and embraced the fact that it was great fun to throw him off of the tallest buildings I could find and not have him die on impact.

To use an example I’m more familiar with than Infamous. Prototype is like Assassin’s Creed if Altair was on several kinds of performance-enhancing drugs, had tentacles, and furthered the plot by eating people.

The game’s story mode has a mission structure. You start off in the sandbox portion of the game, where you’re free to take on various racing, gliding, and “kill X number of enemies before the time runs our” events. Once you accept a mission, though, it’s a more set path, with a series of objectives to complete. Completing all the objectives brings you back to the sandbox portion of the game, where you can accept another mission, and so on and so forth.

A core mechanic in Prototype is the ability to consume targets, which gives Alex access to their memories (known as the Web of Intrigue) and reveals more information about the plot. Much of the time, your missions will revolve around consuming a particular target, but a great deal of the web of intrigue targets are completely optional, so if you’re a completionist….have fun with that.

Whereas games like Assassin’s Creed focus on climbing, Alex’s version of parkour emphasizes speed and agility and steamrolling over anything that gets in his way. Want to scale a tall building? Simply sprint up to it and just keep moving. Don’t worry about grabbing onto each ledge and painstakingly pulling yourself up, that’s for people who don’t have super strength. Want to throw yourself off of a tall building? You’ll make a cool crater when you land. The game does a really good job of making you feel like an unstoppable superbeing–unless you get shot too many times, then you’re just fucked. I actually nicknamed Alex “gorilla-kitty” because of the way he hunches over when he runs and the ridiculously acrobatic moves he makes when he scales a building. You can also hijack tanks and later, helicopters (the later that you can actually grab while airborne in order to hijack it).

In case you can’t see the “M” rating on the box, Prototype is also ridiculously violent, emphasis on ridiculously. NPCs are cut in two like they’re made of paper, and there’s enough blood flowing to supply every horror movie for about five generations. The gore and the acrobatics are so ridiculously over the top that it’s a wonder that the game takes itself so seriously. It’s the kind of ridiculousness that you find in films like the Final Destination series.

And you eat people to further the plot, seriously.

Story-wise, I probably ruined it for myself by playing it so long after it’s release date, but I already knew the Big Reveal, but even if I didn’t, said Reveal is delivered in such a deadpan way that it was really anti-climactic. I was actually surprised that a very final boss like boss encounter wasn’t actually the final boss.  But, you know, this probably isn’t a game you’ll play for the riveting story. The music is a mixture of techno and rock that can get quite dramatic at times. I also liked the end credits piano tune, but, I mean, it’s no Devil May Cry 3 or anything.

In terms of issues I had with this game, the biggest would probably be the checkpoint system. If you happen to die and choose to reload the game, the game starts you off at the last checkpoint, but if you happen to quit the game, you go all the way back to the mission acquisition portion. I didn’t notice this as much on the earlier missions, but some of the later missions are pretty time-consuming, and at one point, during a particularly difficult mission involving a ton of helicopters, I was seriously considering leaving my PC on all night so I wouldn’t have to start all over again. (I ended up not doing that.) I would have liked the ability to save at a particular checkpoint, rather than having to start the mission all over again. There’s some variety in missions, but most of the time they’re some variation on the formula “go to X location and consume target Y”, and one particular boss would have been much harder if they didn’t keep telling me when they were reloading their gun, which is when they were vulnerable. Also, unless you’re a completionist, there really isn’t any reason to continue playing after you’re finished story mode unless you really like optional challenges, or you really want to find those optional Web of Intrigue targets to get the most out of the story.

In sum, Prototype is good for some ridiculously violent fun and neat acrobatics, and so long as you don’t go into it expecting an awesome story, you should be fine.

Things I Want to Do Before I Die….

  • Publish a book or two
  • Visit Japan
  • Create the BDSM tarot I saw in my dreams
  • Beat every game in my Steam library at least once
  • (No, I’m not saying “beat every game I own” because that would take forever.)
  • Take belly-dancing lessons
  • Create a DNA necklace for a loved one (oh, come on, it’s sweet, it’s like giving someone a blueprint for making a you)
  • Have sex
  • Set up at least one permanent altar
  • Eat something outrageously unhealthy just to say I ate it
  • Swim with dolphins like your stupid brother did on his honeymoon, stupid brother
  • Throw caution to the wind at least once
  • Attend an anime convention
  • In fact, attend all those other events I keep saying I should attend but never do

Writing, and Liking “Kid Stuff”

Apparently Trixie has decided that she is now a godslave, because her definition of godslave is different from everyone else’s definition. and that totally makes sense.

Anyways, once again I am going to refrain from commenting, and instead link to this neat article I found about adults liking “kid stuff”.

I’m an adult. This afternoon, I was playing Pokemon White. I’ve been playing Pokemon games since I was ten years old. Tomorrow, a new episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, will air, and I’ll be watching that as soon as I get home from volunteering at the library. I loved Avatar: The Last Airbender and I can’t wait for the second season of The Legend of Korra.

I like plenty of shows that are meant for adults, of course. I like Criminal Minds and Elementary and I have a cupboard with a decent number of M-rated games: Mass Effect, Skyrim, Dragon Age. My ereader has books on it that would make my mother blush (although, I suspect it would be considered tame by some of you). By the way, have you read my writing? It’s not that graphic, but it’s definitely not kid-friendly.

I guess it sounds like I’m trying to justify my liking for “kid things” by showing you examples of my “adult cred” but really, am I going to convince anyone who thinks that adults who like MLP:FiM are creepy to change their mind? No, but since when did I go around looking for the approval of others?

…Okay, since I started writing, but that’s another post for a time when I’m not tired.

Speaking of my writing, I should get back to it, but I seem to have hit some sort of dry spell. I’m currently reading Sir Gawain: Knight of the Goddess by John Matthews, so hopefully that will help a bit with that Arthurian project I’ve been telling myself that I’m going to write one of these days. Soon….